Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday (Aug. 27) was presented a “Building a Better Brand” for Arkansas report with recommendations from Under 40 Forum participants. An idea in the report is to create public-private partnership focused on educating state residents about positive things happening the state’s entrepreneur and tourism sectors.
The report was compiled and produced by the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, the Clinton School of Public Service, Arkansas Business and the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. The report is being mailed to political, business and community leaders across the state.
Members of the 2017 40 Under 40 classes for the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal and Arkansas Business gathered April 5-6 at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute on Petit Jean Mountain.
During the third annual forum, Dr. Marta Loyd, executive director of the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, encouraged participants to “imagine an Arkansas” that is known around the world for its economic vitality and quality of place. Part of that process, she said, is to consider “natural collaborations” among people and institutions in the state that can help the state build a better brand.
Skip Rutherford, dean of the Clinton School of Public Service, told the more than 30 Under 40 members they are all “recruiters for the state,” and should approach the task of considering a better brand by thinking about what they hear from people who aren’t from the state. They also should consider how they represent Arkansas when traveling out of state, and should be able to talk about the state’s positive qualities.
The group focused on four major areas they believed would build a better state brand.
• Improving internal perceptions of the state;
• Changing external perceptions of the state by calling on Arkansans to act as ambassadors;
• Utilizing Arkansas’s creative industry sector; and
• Leveraging Arkansas’s natural resources.
In addition to the public-private partnership to focus on internal marketing, following are other report recommendations.
• Adopt the hashtag #ARHome to highlight what Arkansans believe is unique and special about the state;
• Seek a commitment to increasing arts education in public schools to encourage future growth of the creative economy;
• Do more to educate citizens about job and career opportunities in the creative economy; and
• Include nature-based and outdoor recreation curriculum in hospitality and tourism programs.
“The leaders who participated in the Forum compete with businesses in surrounding states for our region’s best talent,” Loyd said in a statement. “The participants told us Arkansas can be a difficult sell, but as soon as people settle here and experience all our state has to offer, they become great ambassadors. During the Forum the Under 40 honorees identified ways Arkansas’s brand can be positive and motivating so young talent inside the state choose to stay, and those outside the state can’t wait to move here.”
Rutherford noted that “participants brought their criticisms of Arkansas’ current brand to the Forum, but also their ideas for how we can improve upon and possibly change the narrative of our state. Their recommendations touched upon government, private and public institutions, and it will be those far-reaching and collaborative initiatives that can move the needle for Arkansas.”
Link here for the Under 40 Forum page which provides a PDF link to the report.
The 2017 report provided to Gov. Hutchinson called for an “aggressive and uncommon” approach to education, efforts toward boosting “cultural competency” and the need to push a rural state toward “demands of the modern economy.”
“In order for students to be successful in an evolving economy and for communities to remain competitive, there must be an offering of nontraditional curriculum for all students. This nontraditional curriculum should range from the state’s history of entrepreneurship and advanced robotics to storytelling for additional trade as well as apprenticeship opportunities for credit and beyond,” noted the 2017 report.